The NJ Library Roadshow Recap

I’ve been hedging writing this post over the last couple of days. I should have written it last week when it was fresh and new and, well, pre-hurricane. It’s now hard to muster the excitement for the day when you see pictures like this and this from Atlantic City. The Atlantic City Historical Museum (our first stop) sits on a pier jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean between the Showboat and the Revel casinos putting it squarely in the path of the storm surge and the hurricane (pictured above). I can’t even link to the Atlantic City Public Library (the institution that manages the museum) or the museum’s website since both are down and will probably stay down till the city isn’t flooded. As a Jersey born, raised, and proud person, the images of Atlantic City and the other shore communities have been really heartbreaking.

It’s somewhat hard to fathom that it was only a week ago that Sophie and I hopped into the car and took a trip to visit three very different and very awesome libraries in New Jersey. We tried to document and incorporate everything that we saw or heard from our stops into the NJ Library Roadshow Tumblr, but there really is just too much. In doing the research for the Roadshow, even the little bits of trivia about the towns and areas we’d be passing through provided a glimpse into the state’s varied history of gangsters, political refuges, and natives.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, it proved to me that the roadshow format is something that can be done in other states as part of overall advocacy efforts. It’s a library talent showcase that brings the best to the forefront, it can be done on a shoestring budget, and (most importantly) it’s fun. I’d encourage anyone interested in doing it in their state to look through the Tumblr, check out our posts, and feel free to contact myself or Sophie for more details.

As I get news from my peers around the state in the storm aftermath, there are many stories and pictures of people filling the library for a warm spot to sit, a place to recharge their devices, and to get back online to connect with friends and family as well establish a brief sense of normalcy. I can attest to the same at my library judging from the full tables and every outlet being used to charge one thing or another. There were many “Are you open?” calls as well as people attesting that they didn’t know the library offered wifi, internet access, or printing. (I wish I was kidding about those last two but, alas, I am not.) It certainly puts a new spin on the motto, “Libraries are Essential”, and shows how the library helps its communities in short term needs.

Many thanks go out to Don Latham and Heather Perez at the Atlantic City Public Library, Dee Venuto at Rancocas Valley High School in Mount Holly, Katie Anderson at the Paul Robeson Library of Rutgers-Camden, and Linda Devlin and David Lisa at the Camden County Library System for allowing us to come and show off their libraries. More thanks to Peg Cadigan, Tiffany McClary, Heidi Cramer, and State Librarian Mary Chute for including the Roadshow in this year’s New Jersey Library Snapshot Day.

The New Jersey Library Roadshow is Coming!


This coming Wednesday, Sophie Brookover from LibraryLinkNJ and I will be hitting the road to do a version of the Great Library Roadshow here in New Jersey. We have finalized our schedule and will be visiting three very different libraries: Atlantic City Free Public Library, Rancocas Valley High School in Mount Holly, and the Nilsa Cruz-Perez Branch within the Paul Robeson Library of Rutgers in Camden. We’ll be taking in the archives that fuel the look of the HBO Series Boardwalk Empire, a high school working with the latest technologies, and an academic-public cooperative library. We are stoked at the complete variety of libraries we’ll be visiting and all the great things they have going on.

This smaller scale version of the Great Library Roadshow came about after a conversation with Josh Hadro at Library Journal at the Public Library Association Conference back in March. Having just marshaled Patrick Sweeney and Lisa Carlucci Thomas up the East Coast, he had expressed the hope that other people would take up their own road trips and document them as well.

Challenge accepted, Josh.

While Sophie and I will not embark on a multi-day multi-state trip, we will be going from the Shore to the Delaware. Between locations, we’ll be tweeting and tumbling New Jersey trivia and pictures along the way. It will be more about New Jersey than you ever thought you’d know; and if you’re a native like me, it might have some things you never knew!

Here’s how you can follow along in our travels.


Sophie Brookover (@librarylinknj)

Andy Woodworth (@wawoodworth)

Hashtags: #njsd12, #NJlibraryroadshow


NJ Library Roadshow

Everyone is encouraged to ask Sophie and/or me questions and we’ll be answering them as the day goes on using the #NJlibraryroadshow hastag. If you’re not on Twitter, you can ask us on the Tumblr site. We will get back to you (eventually). Promise!

We won’t be the only teams out on the road. The New Jersey State Library will be sending out people to visit libraries in the northern end of New Jersey. We couldn’t possibly cover it all in one day and remain sane. They will be posting to the Tumblr account as well so there will be a ton of content going up over the course of the day.

If you’re a New Jersey librarian and your library is not participating yet, it’s easy! Here’s how!


Today, I went up to the Darien Public Library in Darien, Connecticut on a roadtrip. I had been invited by my fellow 2010 Mover & Shaker Gretchen Caserotti to come up and see the library (and when you throw in lunch, well, I’m no fool). I got the full-on tour of the place from the study rooms on the top floor to the fabled materials management system on the bottom floor.

The word that I would use to describe this library is ‘intimate’; I mean it in the warm, cozy sense. There was something about the arrangement of the rooms and spaces that made it feel like whatever I was looking for was nearby or a place to sit was close at hand. That each room was the place to be. (I might not be conveying the feeling very well, but it’s one of those nuances that may not translate this time around.)

I will say that there is a great pleasure in visiting other libraries. Mainly, I like to steal their ideas. And by steal, I mean gloriously rip off and use at my own library to my own great delight. Although, if I was a better thief, perhaps I wouldn’t given attribution to the people I had stolen from when asked about things I’ve used; perhaps I’m more of a Creative Commons style of bandit. I left Darien with some ideas for my own library and I’m looking forward to giving them a go at my own library.

I’d like to thank the Darien staff for their time and hospitality; I’d especially like to thank Louise, Alan, John, Sally, and Alex for an afternoon of library conversations that touched on just about everything. And, last but not least, to Gretchen for her generous invitation that brought me from southern New Jersey to that part of Connecticut that I used to skip by taking the Merritt Parkway.

In exchange for the tour and lunch, I brought a tray of home made chocolate chip cookies. Based on my experiences today, I think this might be an excellent way to get more invitations to tour other libraries. So, I’ll make this offer:

You invite me to your library and if I come I will bring you cookies (chocolate chip, from scratch).


Yep. Those can be yours.

Once again, thanks to Gretchen and the Darien staff for a great day.